Author: Malcolm Peet, Iain Glen & David Horrobin (eds.)
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FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:
Phospholipid Spectrum Disorders in Psychiatry and Neurology
Edited by Malcolm Peet, Iain Glen and David Horrobin
The first edition of this book signalled a fundamental change of direction in the way in which psychiatric and neurological dysfunctions were conceptualized and treated. Appearing in the last year of the last century, it heralded the kind of reorientation of thought that would be needed in the next if the problems besetting these two major areas of medicine were to be dealt with effectively. It would be hard to overestimate the impact produced by the first edition in the four years following its publication. It was instrumental in promoting widespread acceptance of the idea that major conditions such as schizophrenia, mania, depression, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Alzheimer's disease, and many disorders of movement, could all be considered as expressions of underlying faults in membrane phospholipid metabolism. In addition, it shifted emphasis away from an increasingly sterile search for abnormalities in the release, reuptake and receptor interactions of neurotransmitters, and towards what has proved to be the richly fertile ground of membrane phospholipid biochemistry.
Over the ensuing four years, research on the role of phospholipids in psychiatric and neurological conditions has expanded to a truly astonishing degree, giving rise to a flood of high-quality reports in major, peer-reviewed, scientific journals. International conferences on neuropsychiatric illnesses are now deemed incomplete if they do not include at least one session devoted to the latest work on phospholipids and on related theoretical developments. The growth of interest and research in the area of membrane phospholipids is reflected in the fact that the second edition of this major treatise is almost twice the length of the first, with a total of 80 authors contributing to 52 chapters.
The authors and editors of the second edition effectively convey the vigour and excitement of this new approach, which has not only helped to remove the stigma associated with labels such as schizophrenia and dyslexia, but which offers hope for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illnesses long thought to be only poorly – if at all – responsive to medical treatment.
A major blow was dealt to modern medical research by the untimely death of Dr David Horrobin, one of the editors of this book. He had emerged as the most important and influential figure in the promotion and development of research on membrane phospholipids. The second edition of Phospholipid Spectrum Disorders in Psychiatry and Neurology stands as an impressive monument to the infectious enthusiasm that he showed for his work and to his energy as research worker and writer; it is a fitting tribute to his intellectual and scientific integrity. In the introductory chapter, he sets the scene for the chapters that follow, as well as outlining the general context in which future developments may be expected in diagnostic and therapeutic techniques; in the final two chapters, he demonstrates his breadth of vision by setting phospholipid hypotheses into the dual contexts of the human genome – the epitome of modern biomedical science – and the evolutionary history of the human species. The authors of all chapters are recognized international experts and major authorities in their own areas of research and medical practice.